Gentili Receives EVPRI Grant for Kidney Paired Donation Programs

May 18, 2018

Headshot of Monica GentiliAccording to the United Network for Organ Sharing, a new name is added to the list of someone who needs an organ every minute. The logistics involved in that process are staggering, and includes calculations involving the viability of a match, need, and the proximity of a donated organ to the donor as a few of the criterion required to ensure a series of checks and balances.

Dr. Monica Gentili, a researcher and faculty member in the Department of Industrial Engineering, was recently awarded an Executive Vice President for Research (EVPRI) award for her work entitled, “A simulation-optimization approach for the optimal integration of desensitization-protocols into kidney paired donation (KDP) programs.” The award is for $10,000 beginning on June 1, 2018, and ending on May 31, 2019. 

The Complexity of Organ Donation

The process for organ donation is complex, and features a number of caveats. For any organ that requires transplant, there are different sets of criterion that apply specific to the unique qualities of that organ. When a patient requires a kidney transplant, they have two options: to register and wait for a kidney from a deceased match, or to work with a living donor who is both willing and compatible.

In some cases, having a willing donor may not yield a match, in which case there are a kidney pair programs, in which two willing donors and two willing recipients are paired with the appropriate kidney going to the matching party. In others, a willing donor and patient may qualify for kidney desensitization therapy, which allows opportunities for near matches to undergo therapy, allowing for a satisfactory transplant.

Gentili’s research attempts to bridge the gap between kidney pairing programs and kidney desensitization therapy, creating a new variable which can provide further options for patients in need.

“There are several incompatibilities. I’m focusing on ABO, that is blood incompatibility, to help quantify how the number of transplants could increase if we include these studies,” said Gentili. “What I’m looking into is how to optimize the desensitization therapy to simulate this, so that we can quantify the benefit of this. Even if you have a match, maybe you have to go through the desensitization therapy to go through a successful transfer. What I’m suggesting is to include this information into a simulated environment.”

The Start

An internal award, Gentili’s EVPRI award affords her the start up funds for what she believes it the beginning of further research.

“Having preliminary data, being able to have some funds to do this to show that this could be a valuable idea.”